October 23, 2016

Encourage Others and Be Encouraged

I became a believer 12 years ago, on October 9, 2004. When I began searching for God I was beaten down, bruised, battered, and had no clue on how to go about this whole God thing, but I knew I had to try. I was in a shelter for battered women and I had a christian counselor. She was my first dose of encouragement. I sat across from her, and I told her that I was "damaged goods." I told her that God could never love someone like me. I had done too much wrong, and I wasn't even capable of loving myself at the moment. She knelt down in front of me and she laid her hands on my knees. She told me to look her in the eye, and to not look away until she was finished talking to me. Do you know how hard that was? But I did it. I listened as she spoke the kindest, softest, most loving words to me. She told me that I was beautiful, that I was worthy, and that I was never allowed to call myself "damaged goods" again. She also told me that I had a Father in heaven who was just waiting for me to let Him love me. I haven't seen Kelly in 12 years, but I still think of her often, and I thank God for placing her in my path. I thank Kelly for placing me on the path to allowing God to turn my ashes into beauty. This lady was a daily part of my life for 6 short weeks, but she touched my life in ways that no one else ever had at that time in my life. God knew I needed her. It was all in His plan.

When I left that shelter I moved in with my brother who was a Christian, and I was so hungry for God. I had no friends who were believers, so I was leaning on my brother for guidance. I went to his church, but felt so awkward and out of place. A few weeks later, I met the man who is now my husband. My husband was a friend of my brother's and he invited me to his church. I decided to go with him, and this is still my church today. When I walked through the doors, I was immediately intimidated. This church was huge to me, and so many people! My first thought was to turn around and walk back out! But I stayed. I was approached by a couple of women who introduced themselves, and warmly welcomed me. They invited us to their Sunday school class the following week. These women continued to come beside me week after week, and each week seemed like someone new would show up to encourage me with them. I didn't know how to react to them, but I had never known the Love of Jesus, and that was what they were showing me. They were so kind, so loving, so full of happiness, so encouraging, and I wanted what they had! It didn't take long for me to let my guard down, and let them love me. It felt amazing! 

It has been just over 12 years since I walked the path that led me through those doors for the first time. These people have continued to love me with the love of Jesus. These people walked with me through some of the hardest and darkest moments of my life. These people refused to let me go! These people love me still, and I love these people with all my heart! I am so grateful that I walked the path that led me through the doors of Maiden Lane Church of God, because most of all, this path led me to the foot of the cross, and to the freedom I found through accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior!

Since that time, I have gained so many amazing friends! I have been able to greet women at those doors of the church who walk in scared and lonely, just like I once did. I have been able to make a difference in the lives of some of the ladies that I have greeted at the church door, and that feeling is just so awesome! To see them come from a dark, lonely place, and grow into a beautiful daughter of God, makes my heart so happy. All it takes is some love, some encouragement, and the willingness to make a difference in someones life. I have also become friends with so many women in this online community! I am so grateful for these ladies who have welcomed me with open arms. There are times that I go to some of these ladies before I go to my own family. Even though I have never met them face to face, they are my sisters in Christ, and they have been there for me through tough times. They have loved me and encouraged me, and they have allowed me to give that same love and encouragement back to them.

In today's world, there is so much darkness, violence, and hate. We need to stick together and be the light God called us to be! We need to love and encourage women each and every chance we get. When we see the lady in line at Wal-Mart who seems so stressed out, and looks so tired, try giving her a friendly smile, or just say hi to her. When we see the girl sitting alone at the back of the church, offer to sit with her, or introduce her to someone her own age. When we see that poor little lady struggling in the parking lot with her cart and her cane, take the time to stop and offer a hand. Give her a gentle hug. You never know what small little gesture might just spark in someone's life. Take the time to notice people. Take the time to encourage, love, be a blessing, and just spread the love of Jesus!